Your choice of a web design company directly impacts how your business is represented online. Whether overhauling an existing site or building new one, it is a sizeable undertaking. Building and maintaining a successful website requires trust. While this may encourage you to call on that family member or friend with design skills, you need to be able to give constructive criticism so make that choice carefully. Your website design company is your marketing partner. There should be a two-way conversation that allows you to receive the best product possible.
As you are choosing a web design company, make informed decisions and ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable. As opposed to a pre-prepared proposal and presentation, a question and answer session will give you a better chance of truly understanding the company. Remember, good design is subjective. What you need are results - increased traffic, engagement, and conversions.
The following are a list of questions you might ask, separated into general categories. Some are self-explanatory while others have a bit more information included for clarification. The redundancy you may periodically notice is purposeful and aimed at providing ideas for different wording of the same content depending on your familiarity and comfort with the topic.
How long have you been in business?
· Ideally you would already know the answer to this question from your preliminary research. Whether you are interested in a relationship with an up-and-coming business or prefer a well-established company depends more on your mission and values.
How many websites have you done?
· This is also an opportunity to learn more about previous/current clients – what industries they represent and how long they’ve been with the design company. Ask to look at some sample sites to gain insight to the company’s capabilities and to evaluate their design practices.
Can you share analytical success of current clients? Case studies?
· You are looking for evidence of a positive ROI – increased sales, leads, conversion rate, increased traffic, etc.
How do you define a successful web development project?
· Is this company more concerned about industry awards or analytical data such as conversions, traffic, and engagement?
How is your agency structured?
· Understanding if the company employs full-time or part-time personnel or uses contractors provides information on what kind of attention and time you will receive.
Are your designs tested for multi-browser and cross-platform compatibility?
· Content and layout should look relatively similar in Explorer v. Firefox, MAC v PC
What complementary skills do you bring?
· Marketing, writing, editing, video production, PR, sales, etc.
What primary services do you offer?
· Is this a straight-up design company or are they also proficient in development, SEO, Internet marketing, content writing and editing, etc.
Do you have experience in maintaining brand consistency? (for established businesses)
Do you build from custom coding or a template?
· Custom coding is more expensive but avoids large load demands and some of the security concerns associated with open source templates.
· Templates may be open source or proprietary. The latter can cause issues down the road if you do not maintain your relationship with the proprietary company. If they use open source, ask which software/template, whether or not they are able to easily customize the template, and what security measures are put in place.
Will the website be device responsive?
· It is critical that your website works on all devices.
Will you install and configure Google Analytics?
· If they will, use YOUR company login, not theirs so you can access the analytics without having to go through your design company every time.
How will you represent my social media into the site design?
· The two options are to either integrate with plugins or apps so visitors see social posts without leaving the website, or to put on the website social media icons that link to your external profiles.
Is web domain and email hosting included? Available as an extra?
· Yes: Renewal cost? Start/end dates? Do I own the domain name?
· No: Which company would you recommend?
What will be the impact on my current site?
· If you are overhauling an existing site, the expectation would be to have staging pages so minimal down time is required of your current pages.
Do you incorporate search engine optimization?
· Yes: What market and keyword research will be done? Do I need to hire a third party to do a keyword study?
· No: Do you farm out SEO to a third party? Does this cost extra?
What type of Content Management System (CMS) do you use?
A CMS allows you to manage content on your website without a need for coding. They can be third party or custom built. It is important to know if their CMS supports Word-Press and e-commerce platforms and if it will work in all types (and versions) of browsers. This is also an area where you may want to ask about training for your staff.
What is your process for developing a website?
· Ideally you will hear about assessment & strategy, design & customization, configuration, integration & optimization.
Do you review my current website and analyze its performance prior to making design decisions?
Will we have a designated project manager?
· If the answer is yes, you will want to understand that person’s level of experience and expertise. It is also helpful to know how many projects he/she is currently managing so you understand how much time your project manager will have for you.
How frequently will we see prototypes? Will we see design proofs for each page?
How many rounds of revisions are included in the quote?
What is the timeline for this project?
· It is important to understand whether or not their deadline meets what you have in mind and if they have included time for revisions.
Will you be outsourcing any work?
· If the company does outsource you will want to understand which parts of the project and to which companies they outsource.
What are your expectations of the client during the process?
· An upfront conversation of the information needed from you also tells you how much time you will need to dedicate to the process.
· Do you have a logo or are you asking the company to design one?
· Is stock imagery included or will that cost more? Where is it coming from?
· Who will provide content?
Will you test functionality prior to launch? What will that look like?
Will we receive all files and have full access/full ownership of the site when completed?
Will you submit the website to major search engines?
Will you do any link building actions?
Will you do any other online marketing actions?
Are backups made? By you or me?
Is there post launch support?
· Understand if the company offer support services for maintenance such as performance updates, content changes, and server modifications.
Do you provide a warranty? (30/60/90 day for malfunctions)
Can design changes be added later?
· A website is an evolving project. Performance should be analyzed and changes made based on that analysis. Understand upfront how flexible the site will be.
Can we edit content?
· There are some companies that want to build future billing for editing services so it important to understand any update charges you might incur. If you and your staff may make changes, ask what sort of training is provided.
Are rates hourly or by the project?
· You should expect the original quote to be based on the entirety of the project and then an hourly rate for any alterations, updates, etc.
What services do your fees include (not include)?
What are the payment terms?
· All payment up front is not best practice as it doesn’t easily allow for changes or issues that might arise.
What is the billing procedure for work outside the original quote?
A fabulous closing question would be, “What challenges do you anticipate with this project?” Of course, you would then need to respect the honesty of their answer. Your website should be innovative, responsive, and designed to improve your brand’s digital identity. Your website plays an integral role in the success of your business so practice due diligence in your search for a top-notch web design company.
Beyond this you need to feel out personality and fit for your company and style. Trust your gut in combination with the information you garnered above and get going on a strategic website and marketing plan to grow your business. Ready to go! We are ready to answer all of these questions and more and would love to partner to grow your business. Let's take your company to the next level! Call us today!